Stick to these basic guidelines and everyone will be happy campers.
This absolutely will work if the rules are followed exactly. We are not aware of one person who has tried this and failed to have it work, but you must be dedicated to doing it precisely as described. If it doesn't seem to be working, read the rules again and try to see where you may not be following them. When followed closely, this takes about 1-2 weeks, with follow ups that are ongoing. So here is the deal...
It all boil down to not giving the dog any opportunity to go in the house at all. This means:
Encourage the dog to see doing its potty chores outside as very desirable.
Mistakes are intended to teach the dog that you do not want him pottying inside. Hopefully you won't need these rules, but the dog may have to make one or two mistakes in order to figure out the distinction.
This is a complete maintenance and teaching plan. It really does work, but must be followed completely for a minimum of 1 week. After one week of this, you then give him a little more freedom. If you are using the leash attachment, take that off, give him a little more room to show you, have him hanging out with you more without using the crate. Then your next step will be to give him two rooms, then maybe a whole area, then the entire house. If you have any mistakes along the way, YOU must immediately take a step back in the training. Then do that for 3 days, then move forward again with his freedom. If he has any accident along the way YOU moved too fast and need to move back a step (to the place where you are winning) before moving forward again.
No matter what you MUST give THREE HIGH-END treats after he does a potty in his spot EVERY TIME! If he gives you a signal at THE door, and then you take him to his spot and he immediately goes, YOU MUST reward him with FOUR treats. After weeks of perfection with no mistakes, if he is signaling by going to the door and telling you he needs to go out, then you can make the treats intermittent. But they still must come on occasion. And you can ONLY do this after he has graduated to full freedom for one week straight, complete with the signaling that he needs to go out.
The Confinement and Maintenance: Dogs only give us so many chances to teach them where to relieve themselves. You must ensure that every time they go YOU don't miss the opportunity to show them where to go. If the dog goes in the house, you have just missed a training opportunity. Moreover, since a dog is a denning animal by nature, it will have an instinct to keep its den clean. By keeping it somewhat confined, you are using that instinct to give yourself an opportunity to teach it to do its potty chores outside. By gradually expanding what areas the dog regards as its den, you encourage it to see the entire house as the area that should be kept clean.
The Treats: Dogs need to relieve themselves and this in itself is a reward. You need to give him a reason (hence the three treats) why it is that much better to relieve themselves outside in their spot. Even if you yell and scream at them for going potty inside, this will not outrank the fact that they still got a reward in relief. The treats also make the dog WANT to do everything they can to get the extra reward of the treats after they go potty. If you had to go potty and if every time you went to a certain bathroom you got $1,000 wouldn't you do what you could to try and hold it and get to that bathroom?
The Walk vs. The Potty Spot: Differentiating the two for the dog speeds up the training process, helping you to communicate the difference. If you don't differentiate, the dog will try to signal more often at the door, because they want the walk. They need to understand that the purpose of the scratching and humming at the door means they need to potty, not they need to sniff the grass. When you stand there and don't pay attention, you are telling the dog we are here for the business at hand. If you start walking around and paying attention to them, you are not giving them a clear signal of why they are there.
The Reduction of Treats and more on the Treats: You must be consistent and persistent about the THREE treats until they are totally clear about this process for one week straight. If they make the great and wonderful point of letting you know they have to go out, then you have to tell them that they did something extra special, by giving them the additional reward of the FOURTH treat. Now in their mind, they think "Hey, if I go to that spot and potty I get relief (reward) and three cool treats (bonus) and now if I do all that funny stuff at the door I get even more treats (score extra bonus!)". Then you can reduce the treat giving to every so often. You MUST only do this after ONE week of perfect signaling to go out and potty in his spot.
The one week is to convince him that this is that great to do as well as making it habit. Next you gradually take away the treats and use them to fine-tune the process. At first when you start to make them intermittent, you only give him the treats when he goes immediately after you say "go potty." If he goes out and you say "go potty" and he wanders a bit first then he only gets a "good boy." He will then look and say "What, no treat?" Then next time he goes right away, he gets a treat right away. Now he starts to learn, "Okay, I only get the treat if I go right away." Then he will start to go immediately every time you take him to his spot. Now you have shaped his behavior and taught him to go to his spot on command, which is really nice when it's pouring rain. Always say "good boy" after he has gone to his spot and pottied on command. CONGRATULATIONS! You have effectively communicated to him what you want.
Now, after all this is SOLID in his mind, you are going to keep his interest, but change the rewards. Every time he does this he still gets the reward of a "good boy", but now sometimes he get a walk as a reward, sometimes he gets one treat, sometimes he gets three treats, sometimes one, sometimes nothing. To him it still makes it worthwhile to go to his spot. This is a lot like the slot machines for humans. We play the game and sometimes we get nothing (but we still have hope that a reward will happen the next time) and sometimes we get $5.00 and sometimes we hit it big time and win $1,000.
That's it! If you do this, I PROMISE that dog will be 100% housebroken. But you must follow this in its entirety, be consistent and play it out. Not only will you have a housebroken dog, but you will have a dog eager to go to one spot and eager to hurry up and potty immediately on command.